Walking on Solar Panels
Switching to an eco-friendlier energy source, like a solar panel, is always a good decision. It can provide extra support to your roof, can help lessen your carbon footprint, and can reduce your electricity expenses. While it has many benefits, the maintenance of these panels can be painful. You also have to clean them regularly to prevent dirt from accumulating and hindering the efficient storage of your panels.
One piece of advice that you will often read about keeping your panels in good working condition is by not walking on solar panels. Experts say that you shouldn’t do this. Our article will clarify this confusion and explain the reason behind experts’ aversion against walking on these solar energy producers.
Is it OK to Walk on Solar Panels?
Considering that you built solar panels on your roof, you may wonder if you could walk on them to fix them in case they break. You may also want to walk on them just because you can or because you take pride in owning one and taking the initiative to save the environment. Whatever the reason is, are you allowed to do it? Are you going to get electrocuted if you walk on solar panels? More importantly, will they break if you put too much pressure on them?
To answer the second question, no, you won’t get electrocuted. They are safe for you to walk on. However, it is still discouraged for people to walk on these sun-kissed panels for numerous reasons. First of all, solar panels are expensive. If you walk on solar panel frames or cells, they may break or get scratched. Once a cell is cracked, the tendency of its power output to deteriorate increases.
Secondly, with various weather conditions and natural calamities, even a small crevice can become bigger, as the constant thermal expansion or contraction will cause the surrounding materials to separate. Finally, considering how much they cost and how time-consuming they are to install or maintain, it is not worth the risk to damage one of them.
Can Solar Panels Break?
The answer is simple. Yes. They can break, and there are several elements that can cause your fully functional, energy-efficient machine to be less functional or, even, to broke. One is if you walk on solar panels. This is clearly explained in the previous section. To be more specific, depending on the quality of materials used in your panel and your weight, it can really break your solar cells and cause them to be less efficient.
It is worse if you wear any kind of footwear when you step on them. The dirt from your soles (like shards or rock debris), can cause scratches or scrapes on the panels’ surface, which can deactivate a cell.
Another factor is natural calamities. Hail, especially, can lead to microcracks developing in your panels. These cracks are invisible to the naked eye but cause real damage to your panels when they accumulate. Snow can also change the thermal condition of the cells and lead them to degenerate in terms of functionality. Extreme temperatures changes can also damage or break your panels.
Even more, lightning and storm are unavoidable. Yes, the quality of solar panels deteriorates naturally over time. However, considering all these elements, will you run an additional risk by walking on solar panel cells instead of keeping them functional for at least 25 years? Probably not.
Can a Broken Solar Panel Work? And How to Fix Broken Panel?
So, what should you do if you break the solar panel by walking on it? Did you just totally lose your investment? Well, it depends on how much damage the action has caused. Normally, your homeowner’s insurance will cover the damage. If only one cell is broken, then you may need to replace only that cell, which is not going to cost you a lot.
If you’re an expert on panels or if you have enough technical knowledge to make the repairs on your own, then you can use the good old fashioned steps by first cleaning the surfaces with denatured alcohol and using a UV resistant two-part epoxy to seal off the cracks and waterproof the panels. However, this process requires great care.
Your solar panels won’t totally stop working just because you scratched them after walking on solar panels. It may have a reduced power output, though, of about 10 to 20%. If you want to know how much damaged they are, you can do a measure of the voltage across the cell tabs. If they’re not heavily damaged, you’ll still get around 85% to 100% rated voltage.
If the crack or broken cell did not cover a wide surface area, then waterproofing can just do the trick. The worst case is if the whole panel needs to be replaced. As for microcracks, they are usually covered by the warranty, so you might as well just have them checked by an expert for a better repair.
Can you walk on solar panels? Well, absolutely. There are even solar panel commercials that show how robust these panels can be even with weight and strength. The better question is if you should, and the answer to this is a big, resounding no. If you consider the cost of the panels and the installation of the solar system, you wouldn’t even think twice about hurting them.
However, if you really need to step on them, there are some things that you can do to alleviate potential damage. You can move around on all fours so that your weight is evenly distributed and the pressure won’t be too great. You can move as slowly as possible, so you don’t push your weight any harder on the surface.
Move as close as to the panel fixture as possible to put the pressure on the fixture and not on the panel surface. Finally, do not wear any shoes or footwear that can bring debris to the panel surface. If you’re on your toes, clean your feet first before stepping on the panels. Just like any other prized possessions, you want to keep your panels fully functional for as long as you could. So, if you really don’t have to, don’t step on them.